Determines the factors that have affected inconsistent data in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs and the actions that have been taken to improve the quality of these data.
“Having reliable program data is important in effectively managing a program. However, there have been longstanding concerns about the quality of data on job seekers enrolled in the WIA [Workforce Investment Act] Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, which rely on states and local areas to track participants and the services they receive. Given these concerns and WIA’s anticipated reauthorization, GAO was asked to examine the data on these WIA participants. This report addressed: (1) the factors that have affected the ability to report consistent and complete data on participants in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, and (2) actions that [the U.S. Department of Labor] DOL has taken to improve the quality of these data. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, guidance, and documentation from DOL. GAO interviewed officials from DOL’s national and regional offices and state and local workforce officials from a nongeneralizable sample of eight states. GAO also analyzed WIA data from program year 2011 to determine the number of, characteristics of, and services provided to WIA participants” (p.1). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“1. To improve the consistency and completeness of national data on participants in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, [this report] recommends that the Secretary of Labor take additional steps to improve the uniformity of participant data reported by states. These steps could include the following: a. providing additional guidance to states on data reporting, such as how core and intensive services should be recorded for WIA participants who receive these services through partner programs; and b. conducting an evaluation or review of WISPR [the DOL’s integrated data reporting system] to determine if it has resulted in more complete and consistent data collection and reporting for participants in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs and placing a high priority on the implementation of WISPR if it is shown to improve data consistency and completeness. 2. [This report] also recommends that the Secretary of Labor promote a formal, continuous process for improving the quality of data on participants in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs through such measures as the following: a. consistently sharing the results of all oversight activities with states and local areas, including findings from validation of participant data; b. reviewing the methods used for data validation, such as its scope and error rate threshold, to identify opportunities to increase efficiencies and accountability in the process. This could include implementing, if appropriate, recommendations from the Regions’ review of data validation procedures; c. evaluating data validation efforts to determine their effects on data quality, particularly on systemic errors, and providing targeted guidance and assistance to states and local areas to address such errors; d. regularly monitoring Social Policy Research Associates’ corrections and analyses of state WIA participant data, sharing this information with states, and coordinating with states to ensure that any corrections are appropriate and accurate; ande. collecting and disseminating promising practices to states and local areas on data collection and reporting on a regular basis.” (p. 34-35) (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)